At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Sumner Redstone’s pet project Electric Barbarellas is forging ahead.
So says The Hollywood Reporter, to whom MTV has confirmed that a reality show based on the girl band remains in development despite last week’s controversy and objections by some at the network. Gary Auerbach's production company Go Go Luckey, credited with MTV's Laguna Beach is taping the bisexual young women in the Electric Barbarellas on their quest for fame and fortune, says THR.
Last week, a phone message that Redstone left for Daily Beast reporter Peter Lauria was unveiled. During the message, he demanded Lauria reveal the source of a June 2 story about Redstone’s attempts to force reluctant MTV executives to create a show for the band.
In last week’s message, Redstone offered to reward Lauria for giving up his source and added, “We're not going to kill him, we just want to talk to him.”
Redstone's control of Viacom remains unchallenged, but the octogenarian’s conduct is not going unnoticed on Wall Street, says THR’s Kim Masters. Mystery persists around the disclosure that 29-year-old Barbarellas band member Heather Naylor sold $157,000 worth of Viacom stock in March.
"People are upset that (apparently) this woman just got options handed to her and cashed them in already," one person with Viacom connections told THR.
A Redstone spokesman, who did not comment on the stock sale, said the mogul now regrets having left the phone message. "It was Sumner being Sumner," the spokesman told THR. "People who know him know he's a seize-the-day kind of guy. He feels bad that he was impulsive in making that phone call."
Wall Street analysts, meanwhile, expressed feelings ranging from amusement to concern that headlines about Redstone's behavior could distract management and investors. But, says THR, few expected immediate fallout for Redstone beyond bad publicity.